AQ 13 - 03.10.10

There was no Tsunami during the second evening after the earthquake. On Day Three the missionary couple went with the pilot family. And, the Williams family headed for the U.S. Embassy by way of the orphanage where Mike & Angie had been since the night of the earthquake.

When we arrived I stayed in the front seat of the truck where I could elevate my leg. The teen girls from the orphanage came to me. Some of them are in my weekly small group. Today they were different. We were all different. They approached me so slowly, so carefully. I smiled. They didn’t. Tears streamed down my face. Tears streamed down their faces. They rubbed my hand. It hurt so much. I was glad they didn’t touch my arm.

What did they need to hear? I said, “I realize that you can believe in God & still be terrified.” They seemed to need permission to feel this way, too. The tears flowed. The stories followed. Then it was time to leave. In December we held a youth sleep over. We had 180 wonderful, fun teens participate. On that night I had encouraged five of the girls who stood before me now. I had named character qualities in each of them & had said it would strengthen them in difficult times. I reminded them of that night & of who they’ve chosen to be, so beautiful & strong. I held their hands & prayed for them. It hurt to move, so I didn’t reach out to hug them. I kissed each hand & rubbed each cheek. (Many of the orphans from this orphanage have been adopted in to families since January.)

One of Dawn’s best friends came in the gate. She lived in the neighborhood. She was solemn. She stretched out her arms to Dawn but did not make eye contact. She paced. She was so anxious. She did not talk.

The littlest boys & girls of the orphanage were hanging on Trevor, Mike & Angie, as if they were trees with long branches. The children were excited just to have playmates for a few more moments. Then it was time to go.

The orphanage “parents” came out with an orthopedic boot. “A team was just here. Someone insisted we keep one of these on hand. It must be for you,” they said to me. Hugs & goodbyes followed, but for all we knew we’d be spending the night on the driveway of the orphanage.

We had no problems getting to the U.S. Embassy. The streets were fairly clear. We had been warned that there would be long lines outside the Embassy, & it would probably be days of waiting for planes once we were inside. We left our vehicle on the street, & Frank called the World Vision office with details on where to retrieve it. I put two of our few granola bars in the glove compartment. Food was difficult for any of us to find.

We were relieved to find a short line outside the Embassy. They waved Trevor & me through since he was carrying me. I asked him to put me down next to a young American couple sitting on a low wall of the inner court. The young lady looked like she needed more than a hug. Their heads were down, & they were quiet. I talked to her. Three of them had come to Haiti. One of them didn’t make it, she said. I held her till security moved us on. “We can’t just leave them alone,” I said to our family. I kept an eye on them through the big windows of the Embassy. They could have entered the building, but they didn’t want to yet.

Trevor said he knew them. They had been together a few hours before the earthquake. He said that the one who hadn’t made it was her new husband & the brother of the young man she was with. (Trevor has photos & video clips of their time together. He will send them soon, but not too soon.)

The Embassy worker at the window had lived in our apartment building. We were so happy to see that she had made it out. She was on the top floor. The roof caved in to her apartment, & she slid down the roof to the outside. She assured us we would get to the U.S. without passports. Hers was missing, too.

There were two available seats in the waiting area. Frank & I began filling out forms. A nurse came to me right away. She was in Haiti on a working vacation. She checked my vital signs & then sent a doctor over. The doctor was also in Haiti on a working vacation. They had not come together. They’d just met each other at the Embassy on Wednesday. It was now Thursday.

The doctor gave me some anti-inflammatory drugs & some pain killers. I asked her how long she thought it would be before I reached the U.S. She hesitated. “I’m anticipating a week,” I said. She smiled. “I was afraid you were hoping for today. I don’t think it will be more than four days. But, we really don’t know anything.” I said, “Just give me enough for four days. Others will need this.” She cried, hugged me & moved on.

The other U.S. Embassy worker from our apartment building heard that we had showed up, & she came over. “They’re not telling us anything, but we’re pretty sure we can get you to the Dominican Republic (DR) or Guantanamo with those injuries. We’re so glad you’re alive.”

We moved along with everyone from one waiting room to the next. Trevor sat me in a teller’s window, so I could prop up my leg. The couple I was concerned about had been adopted by a small group. They stuck together for the rest of the day. Trevor saw that a group of fire fighters from the LA Fire Dept. had congregated in the court yard. He went out to talk with them, hoping to join them in the relief effort. They said they couldn’t hire him, because they had been hired & were accountable to another organization.

The Embassy set up some tables with peanut butter & spoons, & personnel rotated monitoring the tables. Later they brought out paper cups & provided a water dispenser. Others donated snacks. Mostly we all stared at the tables & each other. None of us knew what was to come.

Trevor gave Pria her eye drops regularly & checked my blood pressure. He carried me to the women’s bathroom once: “Excuse me. Coming through with a woman who can’t walk. Thank you.” This was a new mother/son experience for us.

A man came out to make an announcement. “Two planes came in yesterday & left with passengers. We were expecting two more planes today, so we shuttled people to the airport. One plane cancelled. There’s already a tarmac full of people. We will give you updates as we have them.”

An hour later a woman came in to the room. “I want healthy men, with passports & no luggage. You must meet all three criteria.” These men ended up standing on a cargo plane half way to the DR before it was called back to Haiti. There was some concern about the safety of the plane. So, those men were standing on the tarmac of the Haiti Airport, too. I was very happy to have my teller window & some peanut butter.

Trevor’s friends kept appearing. He was having a wonderful reunion with high school buddies. Most were heading for Miami. After a few more hours & no more news about aircrafts, some of his Haitian friends headed out of the Embassy to eat at the homes of relatives & arrange a caravan of vehicles to drive to the DR.

We were told that MREs (Military dehydrated “Meals Ready to Eat”) had been donated. Mike had had his share of them in the AF & was willing to demonstrate how to activate the heat & not burn yourself. He & Trevor helped set up the meals for each person as they lined up in the court yard.

The meals were a fun diversion. There must have been a hundred different meal options in those brown pouches. Many of the guests dining at the Embassy that evening had fun trading food & stories. Others were just thankful for food.

Close friends of ours had given up their seats on the planes the previous day & now offered to share their blanket with me as we all bedded down in the grass. We three ladies tried to think of things to say but couldn’t. They were worried about their two husbands who planned on being inside the Embassy compound before dark. It was now dark.

A few hours passed & I was in more pain than I could handle & I began to cry. Trevor tried to relieve pressure from my legs from different angles. I smiled & joked. I hope that eased his pain. It eased mine. Medics appeared from some back room in the Embassy where they were treating a few people. They put me on a stretcher & carried me to the newly designated doctor’s office. Two doctors determined that I possibly had breaks in my arms & legs, but they couldn’t know without equipment. They gave me a Percoset.

Soon our Embassy friend from our apartment building came in & talked to the doctors. They turned to me. “If you can sit up for 3 hrs we can get you on a cargo plane to the U.S. right now.” Of course I said I could! But, I wouldn’t go without the whole family, including Mike & Angie. The Embassy personnel took us all out the side door.

Trevor said, “You know I need to stay.” And, yes, it was clear to us all that Trevor would stay. Frank called World Vision to pick him up, & Mike turned over his own backpack to Trevor.

A group of us was transported in the middle of the night to a surprised cargo crew who had just been informed that they would not be returning to the U.S. for supplies with an empty craft!


  1. Found your blog through Ruth H. - I put our kids on the flight with you that night ... we watched you in pain and felt so helpless - my daughter Paige knows you daughter Dawn. Prayers for your healing and His direction. This is not easy stuff.


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